Everybody wants to know the secret to fat loss. Today, I’m going to reveal it using one of the people I talk to via my Get Help program as an example. I will not show this young gentleman’s face or reveal his name. We will call him Coldmember. He’s Dutch. Age 20. On the left you can see his impressive and very inspiring before and multiple after shots. Now that’s what I call ripped!
He attained much of this “physique improvement,” in a nutshell, by cycling up and down in bodyweight while doing lots of resistance training/weight training. He would bulk up and build as much mass and strength as possible, and then reduce calories as little as was required to get slowly and steadily leaner. It was a good strategy. Slow, steady, and smart. At one point he actually had extremely low body fat while NEVER going below 3,000 calories daily. He describes his metabolism at that time as being pretty solid with lots of body warmth and a high sex drive – two of the more reliable indicators of a good functioning metabolism.
I would say that this method of fat loss is the safest, most reliable, and least detrimental of all fat loss methods formally known and commonly used. So if you were looking for a big secret to fat loss, well, that’s the secret I guess. Although it’s really not that big of a secret, nor does it happen to be all that safe and realistic of an approach for older persons, people with less than militant discipline, or people with a damaged metabolism. This is, of course, why I investigate alternatives that may be better, healthier, and realistic for “normal” people.
But this post isn’t about the big secret to losing fat. This post is about fat loss’s secret – the secret that fat loss doesn’t want you to know about. And Coldmember has got plenty of secrets not revealed in a before and after snapshot. We’re far from being done with how he got from the before picture to the ripped ones.
The danger with this type of pursuit, in my experience, is that tinkering with your diet leads to more tinkering with your diet. And tinkering with your diet is like playing roulette, with the extreme dangers and risks swept under the rug by diet gurus who don’t want to face the prospect that their well-intended dietary beliefs could be harmful.
Plus, no one ever looks in the mirror and says, “Wow, okay. I think I look exactly perfect!” Even if they did, they wouldn’t necessarily stay looking that way or lose the desire for improvement. And in today’s day and age, with endless dietary philosophies scattered about – all of them “making sense” the more you expose yourself to one line of thinking (with the added fuel of powerful short-term testimonies that target your irrational emotional desires)… it’s hard not to fall prey to “the next big thing.”
In Coldmember’s case, his first big plunge into the downward spiral of fat loss came when he went from a relatively sane and effective approach at changing his body composition, and began practicing intermittent fasting in a poorly-designed way. He would feast one day on 4000 to 5000 calories roughly, and then fast completely the next day. He continued alternating with fasting and feasting – his first big step into the world of extremism, until he started to notice some metabolic problems for the first time.
Next he fell for the strangely seductive 80-10-10 raw vegan diet (a diet where fruit provides 90% of one’s caloric energy). For 6 months he followed it to the best of his ability, getting extremely lean but also losing a considerable amount of muscle mass as shown in the before and after of his legs. His strength fell approximately in half despite continuiing to do at least some weight training.
And I don’t use the word “extinction” lightly. At his low point he had no sex drive of course, but it was worse than that. He had driven himself completely mad with conspiracy theories, developed strong suicidal tendencies, and his body was in hormonal shambles. His diastolic blood pressure reached 35. He could not walk down the street, much less work out. Some days it took him 10 minutes just to get his pants on and buttoned up. His adrenals were shot. He was producing well below the accepted range in cortisol.
Here are some of his more relevant hormone tests. Notice, and this is extremely important – his maintenance calories (calorie intake at which your weight stays the same) dropped by more than half, which represents a massive decline in metabolic rate, but his thyroid hormone levels are all (albeit barely) in the acceptable range. This guy was freezing cold drinking coffee next to a heater in summer with two jackets on, which is why exterior indicators of metabolic health (body heat, body temp, warmth of hands and feet, biofeedback like sex drive) are usually more useful than a snapshot of actual blood hormone values. But holy peanut balls look at his testosterone values alongside of the reference ranges. Yikes. Click on the image once on this screen and once on the next to enlarge it to where you can actually read the thing. No it’s not English but I’m sure you can decode most of it. Coldmember did not send me an after pic of his balls, but if he did I would recommend that he eat the hell out of some food to enlarge that image.
Anyway, thanks to a little hormone replacement therapy, Coldmember was able to live. He’s convinced that HRT, cortisone in particular, saved his life and while that wasn’t the only thing that could have saved his life, I wouldn’t argue with that. This was damn close to being a diet death. And all of the after photos were taken very close to his low point. While some of you, guys especially, may have been really enamored with those lean photos at first glance – take a moment to realize that you were seeing photos of a suicidal nearly-dead 20-year old with no sex drive that couldn’t even walk without getting lightheaded and almost passing out. This is not health. This is a modern fantasy. Being really lean looks like it would be fun, but it usually isn’t, especially if you use extreme dieting tactics – completely ignoring your body’s signals, to achieve it. What we’re really looking at here is Auschwitz if they had a nice weight training facility.
Don’t worry. He’ll be fine. He’s already seeing drastic changes take place since our first talk on Saturday. If you would like I can do a follow-up post on the general strategy we’re aiming for to get him back on track. Let me know if that’s something you would like to see in a comment, and I’ll see if I can get that post out early next week.